It must be difficult not being one of the top four or five drivers. It’s the F1 equivalent of being Bill Pullman. Or do I mean Bill Paxton? No. No, I was right first time… Pullman. See, that’s exactly what I mean. If you’re not A-list material, it’s easy to become a bit forgettable – or, worse still, invisible.

If you’re anything less than a genius driver in a phenomenal team, then however great your achievements, you can be ignored in the noisier static of the media.

Nick Heidfeld for instance (apparently no taller than an Action Man in real life, and so always subject to visibility problems) is a consistent, clever and reliable driver. And very fast on a good day. His 2006 hasn’t exactly been fab, but it’s certainly not been a disaster either, and he’s still done some great driving. It just happens to have been eclipsed by the front runners.

Felipe Massa too has been nothing less than workmanlike (in that he goes around demolishing things…) and has quietly done a good job helping the Ferrari campaign. You only really tend to notice the errors of course.

Nico Rosberg gets talked up as F1’s David Beckham – a vaguely plausible comparison until you realise that he actually looks more like a blonde girl with mumps than an international footballer. And with a couple of great races already this year (Bahrain & Europe), he stands a chance of stepping out of his dad’s not inconsiderable shadow.

His dad’s big shadow is not merely middle-age spread: he was an awesome racer (note the word ‘racer’, not simply ‘driver’) during the eighties – fast, fearless, fair and supremely gifted. If Nico has some of that in his genes, then it’s his duty to all of us to bring it back into the sport.

Takuma Sato has actually been doing a great job, given the tools he has to work with – and it’s only because he’s so far off the pace that he’s really not in your face. Something for which Michael Schumacher is probably extremely grateful. But there he is, pulling indecently good performances out of a half-decent car.

There are others too: Villeneuve, Webber, Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Trulli… even Montoya and Fisichella aren’t too bad – they’re just put in the shade by team mates working at a completely different level.

Let’s face it, you have to be pretty damned good to get into F1 in the first place (unless you’re a Pay Driver or Yuji Ide of course) so quibbles about how drivers compare always have to accept a certain level of excellence to even get off the ground.

But in a sport so singly defined by the winning, the taking part sometimes gets a teensy bit forgotten. And given how talented and committed all these guys are, that’s a bit of a shame.

Hang on! I *DID* mean Bill Paxton! Sheesh!